“If you believe you are a victim of domestic violence, you must determine within yourself that you can do better and change anything you are not comfortable with. Do not be afraid to tell someone what you are going through.”
This advice came from social worker, Mary Bostic, as she and her colleague, Sharon Rose-Gittens of the Barbados Association of Professional Social Workers, addressed patrons at the Eunice Gibson Polyclinic this morning on the topic Domestic Violence: What is the Prescription? as part of the Warrens-based institution’s Health and Wellness week of activities.
Rose-Gittens commenced the discussion by stating that warning signs manifest themselves from early. For example, “If your potential partner has a poor self-image, blames others for his/her problems in life; cannot deal with frustration; is overly possessive or is constantly calling or messaging you when you are not with them, these can be signs of trouble.”
As the relationship grows, these issues can become more intense, and if it escalates to abuse, it follows a cycle which she described as:
Excuses – where the perpetrator ‘acts out’ and the victim makes excuses for their behaviour (for example, loss of a job or some other traumatic situation in their lives);
Honeymoon – the “period of calm” between incidents where things “cool down” somewhat and the relationship appears to be improving;
Routine – things return to “normal” but then a stressful situation arises which leads to
Tension – the abusive behaviour starts again in a subtle form, but ultimately there is a
Trigger – which can be an action or a word which leads to Abuse. And the longer such situations go unchecked, the honeymoon periods grow shorter and the incidents of abuse become more severe.
Rose-Gittens noted that domestic violence occurs in all types of families and homes regardless of income or race, and given the theme, she identified the ‘treatment options’ available in Barbados. She noted specifically the Royal Barbados Police Force’s Family Court Unit, the High Court’s Family Services section and Partnership for Peace, the Psychiatric Hospital and the Polyclinic system.
She added, “Social workers make their ‘diagnosis’ based on signs and symptoms and decide what is best for all parties involved based on the provisions of the Domestic Violence 2015/16 Act, and we work closely with Government agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations to assist victims and perpetrators.” Bostic noted that despite the stigma attached to the polyclinics and the Psychiatric Hospital, these were safe and confidential environments in which people could share their experiences.